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HomeFeaturesFamily & ParentingA Conversation with Higganum Author Alyssa Hurley on "A Wallop of Worries"

A Conversation with Higganum Author Alyssa Hurley on “A Wallop of Worries”

By Meghan Peterson

(February 21, 2024)Haddam is home to a vibrant community of artists spanning the gamut from authors to musicians and every kind of creator working in different media and contexts. Haddam Killingworth News/hk-now.com had the opportunity to interview one such local creator, Alyssa Caparaso Hurley. Having recently authored a book, “A Wallop of Worries,” geared for children and the adults to whom they belong, Hurley shared her thoughts with us about this publication, the process behind it, and her sources of inspiration.

 HK News: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

AH: I was born and raised here in Higganum. After years traveling and living in a lot of places, my husband Jim and I came back to raise our family here. Higganum is where family is and is also why I am a writer. I had fantastic teachers in our school system who helped me create a great future career. English with Mrs. Fialko and Mrs. Miles stand out because they taught me to love learning, and also took the time to make me comfortable and confident in my ability to write. I had jobs in New York that grew my writing skills and creativity. And when I became a flight attendant for a major airline, I loved seeing the world but missed writing, and then I realized I could do both.

HK News: What inspired/motivated you to write a book?

AH: I have written a lot of pieces, but I was inspired to write a children’s book about a “wallop of worries” because I was a kid-worrier! I worried a lot about everything. I worried about normal things like friendships, school, and sports. And when I ran out of those worries, I created new and highly unlikely worries like ghosts, my brother getting hurt, or getting bitten by a huge snapping turtle in the Higganum reservoir. Sometimes I would worry too much to sleep, and the more I couldn’t sleep, the more I worried about sleeping. As a kid, worrying was normal to me and I thought everyone’s brain just routinely panicked on them. It did get better as I got older, and I didn’t really worry too much about the crazy improbable things anymore.

Then on one of my layovers halfway across the world, I got very sick. It re-triggered my hidden worrying talent. The thing about anxiety is that it is so invasive once you allow it in.  I was overtired and rundown, and now this time more rational adult worries took over.  It made me remember how much I hated worrying when I was a kid and how scared it made me.  It really bothered me to think about any kid having these kind of really big overwhelming feelings and being afraid to go to bed, afraid to go to school, or really afraid to do whatever. I started to write this book on those nights when I couldn’t sleep. I thought about what I would say to my younger self and to those kids who maybe were awake right now worrying as much as I was.  That’s when I wrote the first draft of the book — on the other side of the globe, feeling walloped by worries.

*Note that the lovely and talented Vicky Kuhn illustrated the book.  If it had been me, we would have had stick figure pictures.

 

HK News: Why now? What prompted the timing?

AH: When the pandemic happened and things slammed to a stop, I could feel those old worries trying to creep in and I thought about all the kids who now suddenly couldn’t go to school anymore or couldn’t hang out with their friends.  Their routines and lives were so disrupted. I pulled out the drafts I had for “A Wallop of Worries” and worked at polishing it. I took a Zoom course presented by a Killingworth local author, John Himmelman, that really helped, especially with the “so you’ve written it, now what” phase that had stumped me previously.  It helped tremendously and, eventually, I was able to get what I had written out into the world.

HK News: What were your goals with this book?

AH: My goal with this book is so simple: To make kids and their parents feel better after a tough day or week. I felt like now is the time to tell kids — and the parents who read the book — that we will all be okay. It is even okay to worry. We are all in this together and we understand each other more than we know.

HK News: Do you foresee another book in the making?

AH: Yes. I am finishing up two other children’s books right now.  I love writing picture books, but I have to admit that I love reading them even more.  One of my favorite times of the week is the Tuesday story time at Brainerd Library.  I went with my son until he went to elementary school and now I take my daughter, who is still in preschool.  The librarians there pick such great books and do such a wonderful job of getting kids engaged in reading.  They have a great collection of children’s stories and we love to pick books out to bring home.

HK News: Any upcoming author meet-and-greet events in town planned?

AH: While I don’t have any upcoming plans for meet-and- greets, my next two projects are a lot of fun. Maybe…once I get them completed and out, I will look into doing something exciting for the local community.

We will be sure to keep Haddam and Killingworth residents apprised of any such events with this author, one of Haddam’s own. Congratulations to Alyssa on her publication!

Photos courtesy of Alyssa Hurley

 

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